The Art of Mindful Origami, by Dr Richard Chambers

The Art of Mindful Origami.

That’s right, the title promises therapeutic benefits and saddled on one side with my partner’s sister  and a friend’s fifteen-year-old son on the other, there seemed to be no better time than a Friday evening to see what’s all the fuss about.

Of course, we didn’t start with something simple like a boat, or even a samurai hat; instead having looked at all the potential options we chose the origami model at the very end of the book – the Christmas bow.

A few recommendations for anyone who decides to practice origami: general rule of thumb, the first projects will tend to be easier than those that follow. This would make also make sense as techniques tend to become more complex as you progress. Of course, it also helps that if you are a novice (and you are willing to admit to this) you find out the meaning of certain ‘folds’. For example, ‘valley fold’ and the ‘mountain fold’. Understanding the difference between these two simple instructions will quite often determine whether your project comes out with the printed side face up or the realisation that instead of a pretty decorative design you’re staring at the rather bland underside of your paper.

And yes, if you were intending these to be Christmas decorations, then they do make a difference.

Having made those two recommendations, the success of this particular book by Dr. Richard Chambers lies in the fact that despite having chosen the most difficult project (and not having read the first few pages with valuable instructions) the three of us worked in relative harmony to complete what was in the end, three rather unique bows. Admittedly, step six took a solid 20 minutes but after returning to the aforementioned instructions and some communal help (I was pretty hopeless) we did succeed.

More importantly, it was perhaps one of the most relaxing activities to share together after a long week and was so enjoyable that we’re looking forward to a few more family sessions of mindful origami.

Plenty of options, lovely images and some extra large square paper that you can colour in (adults need colouring fun too) and good instructions make for a great book. I must confess, I would find it  useful to have an appendix titled ‘origami for dummies’ but not everyone may need that supplementary help.

It really depends on whether you choose to do this alone or with company. Either way, the benefits are there whether you choose a butterfly or a boat – and the bonus is you might make some nifty artwork at same time.

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Dione is an Auckland based theatre director and writer with background in performance and community & cultural development. She works as a freelance arts journalist, guest lecturer and creative advisor on a range of different projects both in New Zealand and internationally. She is primarily a non-fiction reviewer who adores travelogues, history, memoirs and creative cooking texts. Read more at

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